I am continually inspired by the knowledge that I practice an ancient artistry, creating objects at once functional and sacred. Indigenous cultures all over the world still weave and fire their work as I do. Art making has been a source of incredible joy in my life. I am amazed at my good fortune to be doing the work of an artist. I love that my job entails spending whole days down by the river harvesting or hunkered down next to a smoking pit fire. I am grateful for the way this work surprises and informs me, and always leads me to points as yet unknown. My intention as an artist and as a person is to look at the world with curious eyes and to be guided by the natural intelligence of the art process.
The Black Ware: Stoneware and porcelain pieces are coated with terra sigillata, or “Sealed Earth”. This technique was used in Roman pottery circa the 1st century AD. The bone dry clay is coated with a very fine liquid slip, and when burnished, makes for an organic gloss making the piece receptive to atmospheric firing. I place the work in a bed of sawdust, cover with a bucket and create a bonfire around it. The heat ignites the interior materials and creates a reduction environment driving the carbon into the clay body. This process is a low tech version of sagger firing. The art is then cleaned, buffed and adorned with woven horse hair.
Hand Building with Clay: Hand building is different than throwing work on a wheel. Clay work is slow art done over many days and weeks. Most of my work starts out as a slab. The vases are made in halves and carefully dried until stiff, enough to carve, and then dried more until free standing— yet moist enough to meld together with the other half. I end up with my arm all the way in the vase, up to the shoulder, joining the two haves together. My excitement about these vases is getting the carved texture that had previously only adorned the under side of my bowls but is now vertical for all to see. The vases take months to dry. Bowls start flat and are then impressed and slump molded. When leather hard, I flip them over and carve the underside. My art life entails a commitment to going into the studio to meet my muse whether she shows up to meet me or not. If she’s a no show; I clean the studio, work on glaze testing or tool repair. If the creative fire is hot; I work on multiple hand built projects at once—moving from rolling out slabs, slowly coaxing waves into form, or carving/pinching vessels and pods into shape.
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